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A group of ecologists are trying to keep the narrow-headed garter snake population numbers from reaching their number of appendages.Hannah Wilson, Rachael Greer, Kat Solorio and Audrey Owens, clockwise from front, collect narrow-headed garter snakes from Oak Creek on Thursday, June 26, to protect them from the effects of monsoon rains hitting the burned areas of the Slide Fire. The snakes are headed for a breeding facility at Northern Arizona University.

Erika Nowak, assistant research professor at Northern Arizona University, has been conducting a survey and capture mission for the snakes and one of their main food sources, the speckled dace, a native fish. The effort is in partnership with other members of NAU, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Arizona Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Forest Service.

The survey and live capture of the animals is in preparation for potential ash-filled flooding of the habitat of Oak Creek. Both animals are indigenous to the area, and are adapted to flooding, even after a fire, but Nowak said the sheer amount of acreage burned, the position of the burned area in relation to the creek and the animals’ already threatened numbers could lead to a complete eradication of the animals in the area.

To read the full story, see the Wednesday, July 2, edition of the Sedona Red Rock News.


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